13 July 2018

To Kindle or not to Kindle

As readers of this blog might notice, I tend to read a lot. When I was in graduate school, I referred to reading as my one-hour vacations, and I would explicitly take some time off during the day to go to the library and read something that was totally unrelated to what I was currently working on. I've carried this habit all along, even now, and I read about at least 20 books a year more or less. And for some reason, I've always preferred reading using traditional methods, with an actual book in my hands. Until now.

See, I have plenty of arguments for reading using the traditional way. But there are also several use cases that I could think of where a Kindle (or any other generic e-reader for that matter) is better.

For example, what about when I am travelling? Would I carry all of my books in my bag? Until now, I've dealt with this by carefully choosing what books to read. Three weeks is more or less the longest time span I am typically on the road (though that might change in the near future, who knows) and I budget about one book a week, which means I take with me three books in addition to the guidebook I use for planning my trip. Sometimes, I actually carry thicker books with smaller fonts (from the top of my head I remember reading Murakami Haruki's 1Q84 and Abolqasem Ferdowsi's Shahnameh this way), books that I know I would not be able to finish within 3 weeks. But in any case, the issue of weight can significantly be solved if I were reading these books using an e-reader instead.

Another issue that a Kindle solves is that of availability. There are plenty of books I want to read, but they are either out of print, or they are not easily available here in Germany. But they are of course available as a Kindle e-book.

On the other hand, I attach a lot of romantic notions with the act of reading. I like seeing me moving through the book, page by page, my bookmark advancing slowly but surely forward. I like seeing the title page of the books other people read, and I wouldn't deny liking the feeling when other people notice the books I am reading.

In any case, this isn't a pressing issue. I might have to think over this for a while, but we'll see. It is of course a matter of constraint satisfaction, and I just have to compute what constraint setting results in the most constraints satisfied.


  1. I bought a Kindle 7 years ago and I never looked back. I still like paper books, the smell of paper, turning pages... but ebooks are cheaper and I have so much more options available! Paperbacks are heavy too, I got tired of carrying them around.

    1. Zhu,

      Yeah, I am definitely evaluating this, whether I should make the shift, or at least have a hybrid reading model where I read some books in Kindle and others in paper.